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Saguaros — in a vibrant show of flower power — are bursting into bloom weeks earlier than usual at Saguaro National Park west of Tucson and at other sites around the city.

“We’re about two weeks ahead of schedule” for the earliest saguaro blooms of the season, said Andy Fisher, a spokeswoman for Saguaro National Park. “Biologists believe it has something to do with the warmer temperatures this winter and how fast January warmed up.”

The early bloomers are showing their colorful stuff a month or even two months ahead of the usual main saguaro bloom.

“Peak bloom is usually mid-May to mid-June,” said Mark Dimmitt, a cactus expert and retired director of natural history at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

WEATHER FACTORS

Abundant autumn rains and an all-but-balmy winter apparently set the stage for an early bloom of saguaros as well as other cacti and desert trees.

“The initial trigger that begins the flowering process is a fall rain,” Dimmitt said. “The rate of development of buds then depends on the temperatures through winter and spring. We had a good soaking last November, and the winter was one of the warmest ever. So saguaros, palo verdes, and some other plants flowered earlier than average this spring.”


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